Former top advisor Dominic Cummings blasts UK Government for poor handling of COVID-19

Boris Johnson's former advisor says tens of thousands of people died needlessly due to the British government's poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a seven-hour appearance in front of a Commons inquiry hearing, Dominic Cummings blasted the government and Johnson saying he was "unfit for the job", BBC News reports.

Cumings apologised for his own failings, saying senior officials - himself included - let the country down by falling "disastrously short of the standards expected".

"I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made, and for my own mistakes at that."

Cummings' failures include a trip to County Durham during London's strict March 2020 lockdown. He admitted this had "undermined" public confidence. The trip came just a week after he had been isolating himself with symptoms of COVID-19. 

Although he admitted the trip was a bad move, Cummings claimed he left London because there were threats to his family's life. 

In more explosive claims Cummings says Johnson downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was just "a scare story" and "the new swine flu".

He says the Prime Minister preferred to be surrounded by "chaos" at 10 Downing St, because it meant everyone had to look at him "to see who's in charge".

Johnson has denied the claims, saying his government's priority was always to save lives - but Cummings says he heard Johnson saying he would rather "see the bodies pile high" than put the UK into a third lockdown.

Johnson denies ever saying this.